Friday, November 03, 2006

More from Bitter Lemon

I, too, have now received notice of Bitter Lemon Press' updated Web site. As I noted when I first saw the new site, the latest catalogue contains a first for this fine imprint: two novels whose original language is English, Garry Disher's The Dragon Man (May 2007 in the United Kingdom) and D.B., by Elwood Reid (November 2006 in the U.K.).

The site also brings the good news of another novel from the great Friedrich Glauser: The Chinaman, with publication dates of February 2007 in the U.K. and November 2007 in the U.S. Like the first three Glauser titles published by Bitter Lemon, this is translated by Mike Mitchell. Long before I ever thought much about the job translators do, I noticed an interesting challenge that Mitchell must have faced: how to convey the speech of characters who slip in and out of various German dialects. Here's what Mitchell had to say on the subject in an excellent article on translating crime fiction that I cited a few weeks back:

"Thumbprint ... is set in Switzerland and the language is an important part of the setting. (Whether Swiss is a 'dialect' or not is something I won't go into here.) Mostly the characters speak 'normal' colloquial German with the odd Swiss word or phrase. Sometimes they speak broad Swiss: this is impossible to copy, if only because there is no English 'dialect' which has a status and usage comparable to Swiss, not even Scots. ...

Glauser tells us his detective, Studer, normally speaks the German of Bern, though as I said above, what appears on the page is mostly ordinary colloquial German; but sometimes, when he's angry, Studer speaks 'formal' (close to written) German. The author points this out, as a way of indicating his mood. Another character speaks a mixture of Swiss and formal German which doesn't sound quite authentic and, again, Glauser points this out. I've copied this commenting on the characters' language, doing it in places where the author doesn't, where it seemed to me that the particular type of language used reflected mood or feeling. I felt I could do this because the author's 'voice' makes that kind of comment. Beyond that, I have kept a few Swiss words and phrases, where the meaning is clear enough, in order to try and emphasise the Swiss background (e.g. 'Chabis' = cabbage = nonsense)."

© Peter Rozovsky 2006

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3 Comments:

Blogger colman said...

is the Disher book a Wyatt novel ?

November 03, 2006  
Blogger Peter said...

No, it's a Hal Challis novel. The Challis novels seem far more easily available, at least in the U.S. and the U.K.

November 03, 2006  
Blogger Peter said...

Incidentally, from the links that appear with the listing of the novel on Bitter Lemon's Web site, Disher apparently has a following in Germany. http://www.kaliber38.de/features/disher/
waldren.htm

November 03, 2006  

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